What Do You Do With An Autographed Baby Onesie? (Or How to Display Your Awesome Stuff On The Wall)

I do not have an incredible story about how I received the onesie signed by Feist.

Dec 28, 2012 at 11:30am | Leave a comment

I do not have an incredible story about how I received the onesie signed by Feist. It was a gift from my great friend Robin’s mother (Hi, Jane!). Jane is Feist’s aunt, and she gave me the onesie, which features a line from Mushaboom, when I was pregnant with my son, telling me, “I had Leslie sign some of these for me the last time she was here.” 

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The little dude in the onesie.

The little dude wore the onesie about twice. Babies, man, they just grow. Also, I was completely terrified a diaper blow out would destroy it.

I was going to say, “Rather than let the onesie languish in a drawer...”

But it did just that for a while.

I finally dragged myself to Michaels, bought a shadow box for 40% off and pinned the shirt in.

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The preparation.

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The onesie in its happy home.

I had saved buttons I bought at a Feist show, and I debated pinning the onesie in to the box with some sparkly pushpins. I went simple in the end. Now the little dude’s onesie hangs in my bedroom, a cherished reminder of when he was that small, of great friends, and of that time I met Feist in Robin’s apartment after her show and she gave me a hug. (She also signed my show ticket. I should have bought a CD! Curse you, digital music.)

Also hanging in a shadow box in my house are my White Stripes finger puppets with my tickets from their show in Moncton, New Brunswick. (No, I did not manage to meet Meg or Jack White. I missed their impromptu bowling alley show, which kills me.)

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I used a couple of the buttons I bought at the concert (I have a thing for them) to add to the display. I still think it needs something.

We live in this age of decorating magazines and Pinterest (I’m on there as @ztifhael and I’ve put together a board of some of these ideas). I see all these beautiful, perfect rooms, but they have no personality. Why should your house look like it was staged by a real estate agent when you’re living in it? Put up your family photos. Display your childhood toys. Frame your strange mementos in shadow boxes and hang them on the walls.

My mom, who has a thing for dragons and has several displayed in her house, along with a collection of elephants and carved tribal masks (they are in the bathrooms, watching you do your business), was in my house a few weeks ago, and told me, pointedly, that we had a lot of stuff.

I smiled and told her, why, yes, we do.

I try to make my "stuff" part of my decor. So my Smurfs live in a bookcase. A Coraline doll provides a pop of yellow in my living room. A collection of Nightmare Before Christmas figures live in a different bookcase. A bunch of Doctor Who mini figs live in another. 

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The ink bottle was in a cabinet when we moved in, and the milk bottle was buried in the backyard. The carved guy is part of my folk art collection - his name is Doc Brown, like the song. Those are my husband’s Ray Bradbury books on the shelf.

Embrace what makes you happy and put it on the walls and on your shelves. 

Do I have to tell you my Christmas tree is full of pop culture Hallmark ornaments, "whimsical" oversized balls with marabou trim, and things my kids made of salt dough and foam shapes?

Displaying your stuff requires committing to some serious dusting on a regular basis, which is why shadow boxes are awesome -- you only have to dust the outside. I try to make use of the things we can’t bear to part with, such as old comic books, and hang them on the walls as art. (This is, by the way, what Warhol was preaching with the pop art movement.)  My husband and I also have some art from independent comics artists that we’ve collected over the years.

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Some of our collection, clockwise from the top left: One of my husband’s beloved Hot Stuff comics. Buffy and Angel by Andi Watson (he did a short that appeared in the comic). ‘I wrecked these eyes reading’ by John Allison. A painting of me my husband did -- it is both an homage to Scott Pilgrim and a bad joke about my last job (yes, that is a tricorne hat). A folk art Blues Brothers-esque angel.

Michaels and its ilk carry shadow boxes, album frames, T-shirt frames and frames for all kinds of collectibles. The little divided frames meant for sports memorabilia would be awesome for a toy collection (Lego mini figs, those teeny Strawberry Shortcake figures from my childhood).

I’ve seen also framed books. The first time I saw it, and fell in love, was on this Design Sponge house tour. The whole tour is awesome, and the books are two-thirds down the page. The books are sandwiched between layers of glass, framed and displayed like art. Perfect for a childhood favorite (particularly one you read to death that is too delicate to just leave on a shelf) or one of those beautiful Penguin clothbound editions of classic novels.

If you’re handy, or happen to have access to someone handy, you can figure out the size you want, get glass cut to size, and then frame it. I recommend automotive windshield repair places for cheap glass cut to size. You could also take it to a frame shop, though that can get pretty pricey. It would be worth it for a particularly special item -- your local frame shop should carry glass coated with UV-resistant film and be able to provide an acid-free, archival environment.

Proper framing doesn’t come cheap, but it’s worth it for family portraits and investment pieces. On the other hand, you can do a pretty swank looking job on an odd-sized print with some art paper (I like the Canson color paper for pastels) and a poster frame.

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The trick is double-sided mounting squares, which you can find in the scrapbooking section of your local art store. Stick the print to the paper, put the paper in the frame. Looks fancy. Is not.

 When it comes to deciding what I’m going to frame and put on the walls, my only criteria is that it make me smile when I look at it.